Everything is a weapon in the Bujinkan

Quite often we say to the students, “In this Martial Art, everything can be a weapon”, and we generally mean “using an everyday object to hand” to help overcome your attacker. But sometimes that statement can be even deeper. Here are some of the ways in which everyday objects or even concepts can be used to in self-defence and survival situations.

Categories of weapons

Please note that what I want to talk about here is quite apart from the usual weapons we learn in our regular ninjutsu classes such as sword or staff. This is for times when you don’t have your katana to hand 🙂 . First of all I’m going to make a (not exhaustive) list of types of weapon use to make this a little easier to understand. I’m going to categorise them into

  • Stabbing / Cutting
  • Battering
  • Blocking
  • Entangling
  • Distracting and
  • Psychological weapons

As I said, this list is probably not exhaustive but it’s a start. You can leave a comment or two if you have any other ideas.

Stabbing / Cutting weapons

This one is quite logical. If you’ve ever put your keys between your fingers or thought of poking someone in the eye, this is the idea. You’re thinking of puncturing or slashing them. Legally speaking, this is the worst case scenario weapon, only to be used in last resort of dire need because it is the most lethal, generally speaking. All that is needed is something vaguely pointy or edged.

Battering weapons

A blunt instrument, this could be anything to hand from a fist to a stick to a chair to an umbrella. A little less lethal – but still very dangerous. The danger with using any weapon is going further than you intended and crushing something quite important to the other guy. Even if they were the attacker, you still will have some problems with this.

Blocking weapons

A brick wall could be considered a blocking weapon, if the attacker was redirected into one. Using anything to out between yourself and the attacker. A shield can be a weapon too, and often vice versa. There would definitely be a legal distinction between throwing someone into a wall, and dodging so they ran into it.

Entangling or wrapping weapons

Flexible, these could be something like a jacket or belt, even a napkin. You can use these weapons to tangle up your attacker’s limbs or put over his eyes. Use of these weapons is relatively low-risk if you don’t accidentally get a strangle on them, and you can use them to immobilise once they are down. Because of their flexible nature there is some blurring of the lines with the next category –

Distracting weapons

Taking your opponent’s mind off what they are doing is a highly effective way of turning their attack against them. Think a glass of water in the face, a sudden shout or change of distance can be all that is needed – if your timing is right. That takes practice.

There is of course an argument that these are psychological weapons but I want to use that next category for something slightly different, and perhaps one of the most intriguing concepts the Bujinkan can offer.

Psychological weapons

Have you ever thought that an abstract concept could be used as a weapon? How about a sense of dignity? Think that couldn’t be a weapon? What if, during a fight, someone pulled your pants down? Then your sense of dignity could be used against you. Conversely, your dignity in the face of provocation could be an effective shield sometimes. Maybe we could use the concept of happiness. What if, when you are about to launch into someone, they smiled and gave off positive vibes?

Knowing the human mind as well as body, having a sense of your environment and practising this way of thinking can expand your self-protection arsenal to an amazing degree. You should also always think about the consequences of your actions and learn how to use the minimum force necessary.

Here’s a list of things to try to fit in to the above categories just for fun:

  • A shoelace
  • A cardboard box
  • A mobile phone
  • A newspaper
  • A plastic shopping bag
  • Chewing gum
  • Cooked spaghetti
  • Sunshine
  • Boredom
  • The idea of war
  • The planet Earth

I wish you good training and stay safe!

We learn about this stuff, as well as the regular punching, kicking and Japanese weapons every Thursday in our Glasgow Bujinkan class. Ninjutsu is a great class for almost everyone who wants to learn it. Give it a try if you haven’t already!


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